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“America is more Muslim-friendly since 9/11, and more so than the rest of the western world”

By Mahmoud El-Yousseph
Technical Sergeant, US Air Force (Ret.)
October 16, 2007 

My best Eid ever in America was this year on Friday, Oct.12 as I celebrated the three-day feast marking the end of Ramadan. My oldest son Yousef came home on military leave to visit shortly before Eid. My 23 year-old daughter, Nadia, who teaches English and American culture in Europe also came home. She handed hand me as a surprise a pair of socks that I wore the exact day I came to America 30 years ago this month. That blew me away!  

For the first time ever, My family and I attended the Eid prayer not at a rented out sport complex or party hall, but at the newly built Noor mosque- an elegant and state of the art facility in Hilliard, Ohio. 

The first day of Eid began early Friday morning as I read messages in my inbox. The first message read: 

“The world-famous Empire State Building   will be lit in green from Friday to Sunday in celebration of Eid-ul-Fitr." This act of kindness warmed my heart and made my Eid very special one. Green color in Islam is a symbol of a happy occasion.

I was more delighted to read further that, "So far the landmark tower is lighted in traditional colors every year only on the occasions of Christmas and Hanukah. From this year on, lighting on Eid too will become an annual event." 

The Empire State Building which is located in Manhattan has been recently nominated as  America's favorite building.

Believe or not, America is more Muslim-friendly since 9/11, and more so than the rest of the western world. In case you have any doubt, please read the three items that were reported this year: 

June 2, 2007 AP wire service story about Bilan Nur, a 22 year-old Somali woman from Phoenix, Arizona:  She worked for several years for Alamo Rent -A-Car. The company fired her for refusing the take off her hijab (headscarf). Nur registered a complaint at the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. The EEOC sued the company. A federal jury said the company must pay her $288,000 for firing her for wearing the hijab. A federal judge agreed, and the company declined to comment. Yes, Justice is blind in America! 

July 20, 2007: According to the Chicago Tribune, two Muslim women from the Cincinnati area were able to get their driver's license photographs wearing the hijab free of charge. This took place after clerks at separate bureau office wrongly demanded that the women remove the scarves for the photo.

Tom Hunter, spokesman for the Department of Public Transportation sent a message to 216 state registrar's offices informing staff that wearing the hijab while taking a photograph is allowed and legally exempt under Ohio law. Mr. Hunter stressed in his message that asking a Muslim woman to remove her hijab is like asking a non Muslim woman to remove her shirt. That is a man of honor and integrity!

Muslims were very proud and will never forget when on on Sep.1, 2001, when the U.S. Postal Service expanded its Holiday Celebrations Series with a new stamp highlighting the Muslim holiday of Eid.   

The postage stamp was to honor and commemorate two important Islamic celebrations: Eid ul-Fitr and Eid al-Adha. Eid al-Adha commemorates Prophet Ibrahim's (peace be upon him) willingness to sacrifice his son Ismail upon God's commandment. The two Eids are usually two months and ten days apart.

"The Eid stamp helps highlight the business, educational, and military contributions of the estimated seven million Muslims in our country whose cultural heritage has become an integral part of the fabric of our great nation." 

There is another popular event called collective 'Iftar" take a place every year during Ramadan. Iftar is the meal eaten after sunset when the fast is broken. For many years, the White House, U.S. State Department, the Pentagon, all branches of U.S. military and St. James Episcopal Church of Columbus, Ohio host such an event. They meet Muslims and get to know who they are which help break the stereotypes that Muslim face every day. To Muslims, that means recognition and respect. 

America does not need to spend millions of dollars on public relations campaigns at Al-Jazeera and other satellite networks in the Middle East to promote a positive image.  The aforementioned acts of respect and goodwill gestures I mentioned will win the hearts and minds of Muslims here and abroad.  Thank you America for making this my best Eid Ever!

Mahmoud El-Yousseph
USAF Retired Veteran
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